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Old 05-22-2019, 02:19 PM   #1
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Default Electronic Cutters and Cutting Materials

OK, so I'm sure this has been covered before, but I'm looking for a SIMPLE overview of this new-to-me aspect of our hobby - electronic cutters and the materials they cut.

I know there are different type of cutters (Scan-n-Cut, Cameo, Cricut for some) and their intention is to cut vinyl (to my knowledge, that's primarily it).

Honestly, YT etc. are either over whelming with information and/or biased (towards one mfg or another). I'm only ready for general information, nothing detailed.

And there are probably threads, but I'm apparently using the wrong key words. So, instead of re-hashing what's been covered before, could someone point me in the right direction for general info on these machines (purpose, capabilities, comparisons). I don't need to know dimensions, blade depth or anything that specific. Just want to get my toes wet.

Can you point me in the right direction, plz?
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Old 05-22-2019, 03:04 PM   #2
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Not that easy of a question! Lol

All electronic cutting machines pretty much cut paper, vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, fabric or felt.

The Brother ScanNCut has a scanner in it so you can scan things and then cut them out.

You need to ask yourself what you want to use the machine for. Brother ScanNCut is great for cutting out scanned stamped images for card making and scrap booking. It is the only electronic machine that has a scanner. Check out this YouTube video for an idea on what it will do
There are a few comparison videos on YouTube

I’m partial to the ScanNCut, I use it whenever I’m card making or scrapbooking. Because you can scan anything and cut it out. But I also cut lots of other things with it. Vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, felt, fabric.

Hope this helps you figure it all out! Good luck!
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Old 05-22-2019, 03:06 PM   #3
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Sorry for the giant links! My iPad and Splitcoast do not seem to get along! Lol
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Old 05-22-2019, 11:51 PM   #4
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Well I couldn't find anything on the web that covers what you are asking, so I'll have a go:

they were based on machines used to print big drawings used for building plans and similar.
then the technology was used to cut vinyl for making signage on buildings and vehicles.
then cheaper smaller versions came out for us hobbyists.

they feed a material between rollers and can make it go back and forwards
they have a blade that slides across in a single line, at right angles to the direction of the rollers.
This blade can go up and down so it presses into the material and cuts, or it lifts up and doesn't cut.
they have a computer which controls the blade and the rollers together, making it possible for the blade to trace out shapes.
So you need a computer with the right software that works with the particular machine.
You then buy and download instructions to cut your desired shape(s) - called cut files. Or you can make your own, its a similar skill to computer drawing or photo processing.
Scan-n-cut have put more computer brains into the machine so you can do without connecting it to a computer.

A pen can be used instead of a blade, so they can draw and write also.



What you can cut depends on how deeply the blade can cut (blade depth) and how hard it presses down (cutting force)
You can have the machine do the cutting multiple times to get through harder material (like shrink plastic) but the you are still limited by how thick a material the machine can take.

Some now have two holders for pens or blades or other tools, this adds convenience so you don't have to stop the machine, change the pen to a blade, then start it again.
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Old 05-23-2019, 01:25 AM   #5
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The Silhouette machines also have the ability to Scan an image and cut it out, via it's Pixscan mat & software. Depending on how big you need to work, there are varying sizes of machines.
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Old 05-23-2019, 05:47 AM   #6
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subscribing to come back and watch all of these videos as I have been considering getting an electronic cutter
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:15 AM   #7
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You can download the Silhouette software onto your computer for free and play around with it before committing yourself. You can also check out their online source of designs: https://www.silhouettedesignstore.com/designs. I imagine you can do this for other brands as well. I say "their"- I just happen to have one - the small size of the Portrait was why I chose Silhouette.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:00 AM   #8
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I can compare the Cricut Expression with the Brother SNC since I owned both. I like the SNC because of the expanded uses - scanning images to cut (use your stamps and then cut out the image - you don't need the dies), scanning backgrounds so you can cut just the right spot on your paper (you might want to cut an image from patterned paper or you might want a certain spot on the paper to be used).

The SNC can be used without additional expense of cartridges or a monthly online fee. You don't need a computer but I admit that I use my computer 99.9% of the time. I also have the Sure Cuts A Lot program that I use more than the Canvas program that Brother created.

I don't know how the new cricuts are to learn but the SNC was easy enough. I found it easier than the CE but then I'm a visual person so I struggled with the cricut's small screen. I did use SCAL with my CE as well (so I only owned a few cartridges).

I've had limited dealings with Provocraft (Cricut/Cuttlebug maker) and was not impressed. I've not had dealings with Brother although I've read others' comments and like any big company you either love their service or hate it

My overall opinion is that the SNC is cheaper to operate overall and has more capabilities than the Cricut. If you decide to buy the SNC, look up Youtube videos by Jen Blausey. She has lots and covers just about any topic you could think of. I took her in person class on the SNC and bought her class for SCAL on a thumb drive. Well worth the money both times as she gives SO MUCH INFO.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:18 AM   #9
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I am interested in this topic - my son got me a Cricut Maker for Mother's Day, and I'm clueless what to do with it! I'm a card maker, and that's what I'd like to do with it primarily, but have been unimpressed with the designs. Can anyone explain to me how I can use it and what else I need to buy to make it work. I've already discovered that I need an attachment to score with, and there are 2 options for that! I'm feeling overwhelmed. Cricut sends me an email every day, but they are just trying to sell me something else! HELP!
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:31 AM   #10
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I have the Cricut, Silhouette, and the ScanNcut. If I. could. only keep one, it would
Definitely be the ScanNcut. I love the ease of scanning to cut, but I find it so easy
to use without being tied to a computer. My computer skills are at a minimum, so using it without the
LoisComputer is a plus for me.

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Old 05-28-2019, 09:32 AM   #11
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I bought my Cricut Explore for the purpose of cutting titles with offset. I can not figure out, for the life of me, how to do this on my machine. I found one video on Youtube and it is much to difficult. I saw someone do what I want on the Silhouette, all she did was hit OFFSET and it did what I wanted! I've had my Explore over a year and have not replaced the original matt yet.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:11 AM   #12
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I buy designs from the Silhouette store as SVGs and use them for my Scanncut. I use mine to cut paper, vinyl, foam, felt, fabric, stencil plastic and acetate, and thin veneer. I've made many many many stencils.


Julie Fei-Fan Balzer created a "Create Wow" sign for Creativation with a bunch of materials the machine can cut. I can't post the link, but you can find it with a quick google search.

I like my machine because I can make my cut images exactly the size I want and change them to suit my needs. There are advantages to die cuts - my machine doesn't like the smallest most intricate cuts, and dies give a very subtle 3d effect from the way they deform the edges of the cuts they make. But with the right attachments, my scan n cut will cut, draw, perforate, emboss, and foil. It'll cut stamps too, but imo the silicone stamping material is too thin. I'm on a quest for a thicker replacement that will still cling to my MISTI.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:29 AM   #13
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Default Which Machine?

I own both the Cricut Maker and Scan n Cut DX. I cut primarily paper and chipboard as I am a card and mini album maker. At this time, the Cricut cuts best. That means does the cleanest cuts on the most varied materials. T requires use with a computer and online program. Cricut is promising offline use soon. The Maker can cut a great variety of materials. If you are a paper crafter, the Explore Air or Air 2 a less expensive machine that works very well. The only missing function is the scoring tool, which makes a nicer score line than the Explore series.

The SNC is the only one with a scanner. I bought it primarily to cut out stamped images and printed paper. I find the scanner very glitchy. It often will not scan everything on the page. It seems to scan better in some ares of the mat than others. The areas change with each scan. Even SNC lovers complain about the mats. They are expensive and do not stay sticky past a few projects. The DX has an “auto blade” that is supposed to adapt to cut different materials automatically. Mine does not. The auto blade almost cut through my mat on the very first cut on the cardstock that was supplied. I had to change internal settings manually. SNC can be used as a stand alone machine, with an online program or with a program you download to your computer.

I have never used a Silhouette. I looked into the software. It has a steeper learning curve than the Cricut but can do more. I would not buy one at this time as they are bringing out a new machine soon to better compete with the Cricut Maker.

All of this info is just my experience and opinion. Hope it helps.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:46 AM   #14
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I had the original Cricut machine, but the software for the computer got so outdated to use and you are restricted to using the cartridges. I upgraded to the
ScanNcut II and I love it! I haven't needed to use the computer to accomplish what I want. I like that it doesn't need any additional hardware other than a flash drive and it will cut any image from anywhere that I serve it Ü It simply does it all.
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:22 PM   #15
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Vestamc does an excellent job of describing some of problems with the new Brother DX SanNCut machines. Having bought mine back in November of last year I also have a machine which causes me grief. Some people do not have the problems so it becomes a lottery as to whether your machine will or will not have problems. I discovered Jen Blausey who has videos on You Tube and a facebook group, she has answers to make your machine behave itself by changing cut rate blade depth and pressure. So far my machine, with Jen's suggestions works Soo much better. than out of the box. IF I had of had all the information I have now I would be looking at purchasing the last model of Scan N Cut in the CM series, in the USA it is the 650 machine. I believe Brother will work out and correct the new machines in time but I have no idea how long that is going to be and they are not inclined to take the machines back.
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Old 05-29-2019, 05:32 AM   #16
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I recently found the Papered Chef and have learned a lot from her videos, she is on YouTube, her recent video on 5/24/2019, she went step by step with how to cut out SU DSP she had. I think a lot of those on YouTube don't slow down enough for those who are trying to learn the machine. Oh, she was using a Scan 'n Cut.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:43 PM   #17
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craftymomto2 agreed and the other thing is that some, who work for the companies, will only demonstrate items which are safe. For example my Scan N Cut will not cut out anything too intricate and I have not seen a Brother demonstrator cutting out any intricate objects either. Brother claims the machine will and I know some will but not all.
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Old 05-29-2019, 03:04 PM   #18
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I have cut images using card stock and some of the details were so thin there wasn't enough space to put glue Ü
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:16 PM   #19
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Inky One it is possible I have seen it. My machine will not.
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Old 06-02-2019, 01:00 AM   #20
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I have a cut n boss machine i LOVE it! I havent had the need to cut anything other than cardstock but it does cut really well but i have found that sometimes you need to run it throught twice but that poss the case with a lot of machines and a metal shim helps heaps.
my main concern is that i bought this 3 or 4 years ago and im in australia and its difficult to buy replacement plates (here) for it the manufacturer (craftwell) does not want to send to australia apparently1

Also do you use go press and foil? some machines work better with this than others...but i have gotten the cut n boss to work with the go press OK.

from Erin
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Old 06-02-2019, 04:12 AM   #21
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I have a silhouette that’s ancient, might even be the predecessor to the silhouette. It works great, lots of images available on the internet, in their design store and I even scanned images using my scanner and the silhouette software on my computer. It took time but I scanned and then in the silhouette software I cleaned up the image to cut a very detailed school emblem in the schools colors for my sons highschool scrapbook. We gave these to the other parents on a senior committee as thank you gifts and they were truly very impressed.

Fast forward to me starting card making and wanting to cut out stamped images. Matching metal dies were expensive so I became intrigued by the scanncut. I love it! (The silhouette is boxed up as I don’t have space to have two out.) So easy to scan in images and cut them out. I control how wide a border to have around items. I can use the images I have from the silhouette store which I already have, and can buy more if I want. It would have been so much easier to create that school emblem on this machine, just scan in the image from the letterhead and save it. Really, scanning and cutting is so easy. Resize when I print as needed!

I also highly recommend watching videos before and after getting a machine. Alexandra at hedgehog hallow has lots of scanncut videos (border info ) pampered chef has been mentioned, Julie fen-fai Balzer (her own YouTube channel and the brother one), and Jen Blausey has scanncut jam session YouTube and a active Facebook group which people help with actual questions/issues about the machine, the materials, etc.) I know there are others but these are my go to ones.

Jen Blausey can cut tiny, intricate designs. She cuts very low pressure, very slow, often multiple passes on intricate items. she doesn’t snap or nick blades, her mats last.

Also card quality matters. I have trouble with bumpy cardstock, the bazzil one. Really cheap cardstock can get ragged as the fibers don’t hold together well. Some just doesn’t cut well but that’s true when using a die cutter or a paper trimmer.

Will it cut fine items? I just cut out the medical symbol (caduceus) which has tiny lines and even eyes for the snakes as well as a stethoscope were the end wrote doctor in script. Very thin and intricate. Those are designs I bought from the silhouette design store and cut in the scanncut. I could have printed a free image that I found on the internet then scanned it but I didn’t like the ones I saw, they had multiple pieces rather than being a connected image and would have been a pain to use. I didn’t want to spend the time to edit something when I could buy what I wanted for $1.50. Even retired my time is worth more than that.

I also needed to cut a title for one of the scrapbook pages I did. I could use the computer software to see a 12” wide page to decide the size and spacing. I transferred the design wirelessly (computer in different part of house than the cutter). I cut the letters in that same spacing, I could have saved a bit of cardstock but I then placed the card with the negative cutout on the page, glued in the space I could see through the negative, popped the letters into the space which had glue in it, and carefully remove the negative. My scrapbook page lettering is even, well spaced and awesome looking. I used a few cents worth of extra cardstock and saved my mental health in getting those “just so”.

(Needing to cut science fair board letters lead me to buy that original silhouette and now the scanncut is in use for a surprise scrapbook that I’m giving to my son next week. He graduates from medical school and I wanted him to have a scrapbook of major medical school events. It’s few photos and mostly internet information, articles, etc which I think turned out really nice. So that means the machines have not been a craft expense, it’s all educational! LOL)

Seriously, the cost of the dies to match the stamped images that I like to use on Christmas and other cards quickly covered the cost of the machine. It’s really moved my card making results up a notch to have images cut out, layered, etc. I still use a hand crank machine on frames and such but if I wanted to I could just use the scanncut.

Barb

Ps. I never have and don’t anticipate that I will ever use this for vinyl. I have a friend experimenting with fabric for quilts and appliqué.

Last edited by kazooMI; 06-02-2019 at 04:14 AM.. Reason: Added ps
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Old 06-03-2019, 12:01 AM   #22
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I would suggest cutting out some simple shapes out of a sheet of 12" cardstock first to get the hang of things. I woukd be surprised if it didnt come with a blade and a mat.
Its normal if the blade makes lines on the mat, as long as it doesn't cut right through. If you are feeling really timid, maybe try drawing shapes with a pen first. (but it may not come with this one of those)
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Old 06-03-2019, 05:12 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AussieJenny View Post
I would suggest cutting out some simple shapes out of a sheet of 12" cardstock first to get the hang of things. I would be surprised if it didn't come with a blade and a mat.
Its normal if the blade makes lines on the mat, as long as it doesn't cut right through. If you are feeling really timid, maybe try drawing shapes with a pen first. (but it may not come with this one of those)

absolutely. In fact the scanncut has those test patterns as a screen item so you can (and should) test the different card stocks, or other material, that you are cutting. You can even use scraps to do this as you can "see" where the card is by scanning it in then moving the test cuts to the scrap. Each machine/blade holder/etc. is different and may need different settings on the machine. Each machine is a bit different and should be tested not just use something a youtuber or blogger used on their machine. It might be good but it might be too deep (ruin your mat) or too shallow (doesn't cut through). It's not as hard as this might make it sound.

A well organized person would keep track of that in a book or sample or something that they kept by the machine. I, however, don't do that. I really should... Maybe someday. I'm making little books now so maybe I'm more likely to do that. Actually I now use pretty much a consistent cardstock and so the setting I have is usually good. Once I know my setting for my machine/cardstock I find that I'm good. Thinking about it now, I keep 8.5 by 11 card in job ticket holders with a label on the front re what paper. I should just add the machine settings to that label.
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Old 06-11-2019, 04:00 AM   #24
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Thanks, all, for the info. 2 more ?s if I may:

1) where do you recommend purchasing your electronic machine
2) (and this is a really stupid question) I was ironing on some iron-on vinyl yesterday, just to do a test. When I finished, there was a shiny layer on top of the vinyl that really wanted to come off; it made it look good, but came off way to easily for me to think it's supposed to stay. That clear sheet on top - is it supposed to be removed once you've ironed? Stupid question, I know. Just dipping my toes into the water on this vinyl thing.
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